Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The physics of zombie movies

Clever scientists often use pop culture to illustrate serious principles. This article reports on a paper analyzing how long a mobile target (for example, you) could survive in a structure with zombies bumbling around at random hoping to bump into you. The answer: get into the most complex, irregular structure you can find. The movie convention of hiding in shopping malls is a good strategy: the chance of being grabbed by a zombie drop off sharply compared to standing your ground in an isolated farmhouse. The author says the paper uses zombies as a model for many "random walking" type behaviors in fields like fluid dynamics.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More on that orang pendek sighting

Ther'es a good discussion, with some new information, going on at Cryptomundo about the report of an unclassified ape from Sumatra. My comment on that list:

The lack of a clear close-up view of the whole animal in the sighting report is disappointing. Just from the description, I wonder if an exceptionally large lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) can be ruled out.
I tossed out on the National Association of Science Writers list the question of whether you’d get a refereed journal to publish a formal species description on the basis of a DNA sample. [Researchers gathered hair samples and a piece of rattan the observed animal had been chewing on.] In the case of other species (two monkeys, one shrike) that were accepted on DNA samples, the samples were taken, along with clear closeup pictures and measurements, while the animal was in hand. The type specimen was then released back into the wild. This has become acceptable, but my colleague John Gever suggested DNA from hairs and rattan could always be challenged as contaminated unless the samples were gathered under laboratory conditions - meaning you had the whole animal to start with.
There doesn’t seem to be a precedent for a formal species description, and certainly not one of a vertebrate, based on a wild-gathered DNA sample alone. If anyone knows of exceptions, please let me know.
(And while I agree 100% with the suggestion that any name eventually established should honor Debbie Martyr, it might be premature to put it in the genus Pongo - while I agree that’s the likely identity, right now we can’t be sure it doesn’t belong in Hylobates or even rate its own genus.)

New species down under Down Under

The most extensive study yet of organisms living in caves and subterranean water flows under the continent of Australia has yielded 850 new species. Blind fish and eels, crustaceans, arachnids - the list includes some very weird things. And researchers estimate they've only found 20 percent of the creatures living down there.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I missed this one: great piece on Neil Armstrong

This Washington Post profile, I think, does a great job of understanding the enigmatic Neil Armstrong. For those who lack the time to read the only authorized biography, The First Man, (or those who have read it), it's must reading about the triumph of achievement, the human cost, and the different ways men act when they achieve greatness or have it thrust upon them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New species from the Mekong

The WWF's Asian Species Conservation program has announced a flood of new species from the Mekong River basin of SE Asia. Included are one bird, two mammals, 14 amphibians, 18 reptiles, and over 100 plants. My favorite: the Cat Ba leopard gecko. With its colorful skin and huge, orange-ish eyes, this reptile would have looked great if optically "blown up" for one of those 1950s giant-creature movies.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Intriguing report from Indonesia

I blogged earlier about an expedition from the Centre for Fortean Zoology headed for the Indoensian island of Sumatra. They were looking for the orang-pendek, a primate which, as cryptozoological topics go, is highly respectable, even if the evidence still falls short of what's needed to publish a description.

An expedition member named Dave Archer and a local guide named Sahar are certain they spotted the animal from behind as it sat in a tree. It was broad-shouldered, about 110 cm from the waist to the top of the head (they measured the tree it had been sitting in after it jumped down and escaped), dark brown and had a "heavy coat like a mountain gorilla's" This sounds a bit off from the average orang-pendek description (it's often called reddish), but doesn't fit any of Sumatra's known primates either. What elevates this report over just another sighting is that the expedition gathered both hairs and a piece of rattan the ape was chewing on, which would be expected to yeild DNA. Clear footprints were also photographed. Stay tuned.

COMMENT: Something that will raise a red flag with some scientists is that, as seems peculiarly common in cryptid sightings, no photograph was taken. In this case, Dave Archer had a camera but was trying to get to a better viewpoint before using it, and the animal didn't cooperate. If DNA is recovered and properly analyzed, though, there won't be any doubt.

Friday, September 25, 2009

MicroSpace News: India launches 6 nanosats

Six nanosatellite payloads went into orbit along with India's 960-kg Oceansat-2 yesterday. Four are free-flyers, while two remain attached to the PSLV-C14 booster's upper stage, also in orbit. In a nice example of the international cooperation that has always been strong in the small-spacecraft community, Cubesat 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Rubin 9.1 and 9.2 were technology test payloads from European universities. They weigh from two to eight kg.

Water on the Moon!

NASA scientists studying results from a NASA instrument on an Indian lunar probe, combined with overlapping data sets from different instruments on two earlier NASA probes, have declared the evidence is very solid for water on the Moon. Water is concentrated near the poles and scattered in molecules throughout the surface material (regolith). A ton of lunar soil would yield about a liter of water, so there's no sense tyring to live off it. Still, while this is not enough water to support a human outpost, it is evidence of processes taking place to maintain water on one of the least likely habitats imaginable.

Oh, and while we're at it: new evidence of more ice on Mars! (Where there might actually be enough to provide some support to a long-term stay by H. sapiens). We knew there was water there, but water ice exposed by meteor impacts at mid-latitudes expands the known resources of the Red Planet.

Can life evolve backwards?

Science fiction writers have often played with the idea that life, under the right conditions, can evolve backward into an ancestral form. Biologists have been fascinated by this, too, but it's hard to test. Now an American scientific team has found a way to examine it on the molecular level, looking at the proteins and receptors needed to build a life form, and the answer is a qualified "no." Over time, "genetic blockades" develop that appear to forbid any backwards steps.
COMMENT: It's not clear, at least to me, whether this is a hard rule at the organism level - could an organism evolve ways around these blocks? It would no longer be precisely the ancestral organism, of course. Speculation is always fascinating...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Science: Breakthroughs on the Basics

This is an interesting article about how things we thought we understood can throw us a scientific curve when we examine them closely.
One team at MIT looked at the molecular structure of concrete, which everyone assumed was crystalline. It's not: it's part crystal and part an "amorphous frozen liquid." You'd think we had studied the basics of concrete at some point since the Romans invented it, but it turns out no one has. We knew how it worked, we used it, and no one, apparently, saw the value in breaking it down further. Now that we have, it'll be much easier to develop variations on the forumula to produce better concrete for particular applications.
Likewise, what can be magnetized? Well, a lot of solids can. But could a gas be made to act like a magnet? The thought seems silly - but the answer is yes.
Science will never reach its end. There will always be new discoveries - if someone puts the effort into looking in odd or presumably-solved problems like these.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Radical proposal: Let Pandas Go Extinct

British wildlife expert Chris Packham says we've devoted too much money to captive breeding of pandas and not enough to habitat conservation - to the point where there's not enough wild habitat left to sustain the species, and we should just let the animal go.

The point has been made before about how charismatic species suck up most of the resources available for conservation, and the degree of effort which should be devoted to captive breeding is the subject of never-ending debate. However, it is because of the charismatic species that habitat often gets conserved. And the symbolism of letting the panda go extinct is unthinkable - if we can't save the world's most beloved mammal, is there any hope for the bugs?

A couple of data points: The California condor was saved from certain extinction by captive breeding and is now re-established in the wild. The ivory-bill sighting a few years ago led to a big tract in Arkansas being conserved. Even though I fear we have lost the fight for the ivory-bill (if I had to bet, I'd say a few are still alive, but not a viable population), the mere possibility of its survival led to the saving of important habitat for countless species.

So, my response to Chris is: NO WAY. We need the panda. We need it to be a success story like the condor and the bald eagle and the whooping crane. We may not be able to save every species, but we're committed on this one. May the panda live forever!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review: Every Living Thing

Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys by Rob Dunn (Smithsonian, 2008)

This is a book that does what great science writing is supposed to do - explain the universe while enthralling the reader. In exploring how the definitions and scope of the living world have been expanded over and over again by dedicated researchers, Rob Dunn gives us compelling portraits of biological scientists who have proposed "crazy" theories, made inconvenient observations, and otherwise risked their reputations and sometimes their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Dunn shows that, while being laughed at by a majority of one's scientific colleagues is no guarantee of being right, it's far from a surefire indicator of being wrong.
One of the themes I push hard in my blog and my books on zoological discoveries and mysteries is that we don't know all the animals in the world, not by a long shot, and it's not just the little arthropods that are still being discovered. Dunn explores this theme and many related ones here. He anchors the book in his own experiences in the Amazon, where no one has any idea of the number of animal and plant species present, let alone what to name them. (He also passes along the intriguing story of what may be an unknown and very large type of spider monkey, which is intriguing because cryptozoologists have collected numerous reports of something with the same description.)
Dunn closes with the fascinating discoveries being made in the "deep biosphere" - the microbes that live miles beneath the Earth. Life on the surface, he notes, may in some ways be the exception.
This is a profound work, not just concerning the biological sciences, but concerning science as an enterprise.

US space budgets show slight increase

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) has a snapshot of the President's Budget (PB) requests for the three major U.S. space budgets: NASA, DoD, and NOAA. For FY10, it's not bad - NASA up 5%, NOAA 2.5%, Defense 3%. The AIA applauds this but warns about the flat NASA budgets after 2010. Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) would get $112 million - up $2M over the FY09 request, but down $74M from what Congress appropriated last year.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Japan's new transfer vehicle makes it to ISS

In another step forward for space cooperation, Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), an unmanned resupply craft, is docked with the International Space Station. The HTV, a one-time-use craft which brings material up to the station and then incinerates in the atmosphere after being loaded with ISS trash, was captured by an American astronaut using a Canadian-built robot arm. See the title link for some very cool video.

Speaking of Star Trek

Here, up for auction, is the seemingly ancient Macintosh Plus Apple Computer gave to Trek creator Gene Rodenberry. This is upgraded from the basic 128K model, so who knows what wonders it could perform? Assuming you can still find any software for it, of course.

"640K of RAM is enough for anybody." - Bill Gates

Another step toward the holodeck

Japanese engineers have developed holograms that respond - or appear to respond - to human touch. Using ultrasound to track the movement of the human hand involved, their system makes the hologram respond as though it were a physical object being handled directly. The creators say they can visualize numerous practical applications in letting humans operate cotnrols without actually having to be in contact with their machines. Star Trek fans, of course, will see it as one small step toward the series' holodeck. The holodeck is an extremely difficult, maybe impossible, technolgy, but you never know what those clever Earthers will come up with.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'll be a little more erratic than usual this week

This is "move our daughter to college in another state while parents cry a lot" week. So I may be less than perfect at keeping up on science and technology.

Reading this new book. Great, great book on the origins and classification of life, and the people who have devoted their lives to understanding it.

Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys by Rob Dunn

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Another step in space cooperation

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency signed a new accord to cooperate on civil space exploration. Since it's easy to find news about NASA and the U.S. space leadership, I'll use this space to quote our international partner, CSA President Steve MacLean: "The United States has been a critical partner for Canada ever since the launch of the Alouette-1 satellite in 1962. From these early beginnings, we have worked together to forge a space alliance that has become a catalyst, driving generations of space expertise, innovation, science, and technological excellence through our participation in space projects that continue to serve the interests of both our nations."

Cryptozoology Museum opening

Loren Coleman's International Cryptozoology Museum, for a long time housed in his home, is moving to a dedicated location in downtown Portland, Maine and will open November 1. This is great news. Coleman has gathered thousands of artifacts, books, and other materials in this one-of-a-kind collection. (Examples: the 3.5-meter pterodactyl from the TV series Freakylinks and a life-size Sasquatch, along with a life-sized model of a coelacanth, the Museum's totemic animal.) I hope everyone will consider giving the Museum financial support. It doesn't matter whether you think cryptozoology is an exciting new science, an idiotic waste of time, or something in between. This is a collection about an enduring mystery of science and a topic of interest to millions of people. It the Museum ever fails, this collection will be scattered, and I don't see how it could ever be brought together again. Kudos to Loren for the many years of dedicated work it took to make this happen.

UPDATE: Loren asked me to add the musuem link for donations. Happy to. And, yes, I'm putting my own money where my blog is.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ever seen a pink grasshopper?

Eleven-year-old English schoolboy Daniel Tate found exactly that in Devon. And it's not pinkish. It's bright, flaring, Pepto-Bismol pink. It's amazing this extremely rare mutation of a common species ever made it to near-adulthood.

COMMENT: Genes are like a deck of millions of cards - sometimes they just fall funny. Still, I can't help forming this mental picture of God in a whimsical mood, pulling a paintbrush out of thin air and saying, "Let's see if anybody notices."

THANKS to Andrew Gable for posting this link on Facebook.

Speaking of ocean mysteries...

There's a promising new tool on the way to explore them: a two-person submersible able to reach even the very bottom of the deepest ocean trenches. Since Deep Flight II is expected to be much lighter than older deep-diving submersibles, it won't need a heavily modified launch ship like the famous Alvin does. Here's hoping it works as well as advertised.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some thought about "sea serpents"

There was an interesting exchange on one of the cryptozoology lists about whether there are surviving prehistoric whales (Basilosuarus sp.) and/or other large, spectacular marine animals still undiscovered. A summary of my inputs on this:

I do believe there is at least one, and maybe two, species of large marine animal behind the hard-to-explain "sea serpent" reports. The one I am quite certain of is a huge eel or eel-shaped fish. The less certain one is a long-necked type that is most likely a large unknown seal or sea lion. I think the usual factors of mistake, exaggeration, etc., combined with sexual and perhaps geographic differences, in these two species would account for enough of the more convincing "sea serpent" reports so as to explain the whole business.

I don't agree with those scientists, eminent though they are, who consign said "whole business" to legend. There are just too many impressive reports by ship's officers and other witnesses who, if they were not marine biologists (and remember that Messrs. Nicoll and Meade-Waldo, famous for a clear sighting in 1905, were in fact well-qualified biologists), could still be relied on to know a whale from a giant elongated "something." We know from well-qualified observers there are at least two species of beaked whales for which we have no specimen and no scientific name. The ocean is still a big place.

There are cryptozoologists, some more qualified scientifically than I am, who argue that several animals are evidenced by the sighting reports. I have difficulty, though, with the idea that a plesiosaur, a long-necked pinniped, a basilosaur, a giant crocodile and a mosasaur are still out there. The body of sea-serpent reports convinces me at least one animal must be undiscovered, but does not convince me that several types of such animals remain unknown to science. Not with no unquestionable bodies found, no post-Mesozoic fossil records verifiable, no specimens having swum into fishing nets, none ever being harpooned (and only a couple even spotted) by whalers, etc. (Allegedly lost, misidentified, or "suppressed" evidence is not worth anything as evidence, because it doesn't matter why we don't have it. All that matters is that we do or do not have it. And a report of a carcass found and lost is no stronger or weaker evidence than an individual sighting report. It is a sighting report, it's just of a dead animal.)

(As an aside, it's actually a bit odd how the vertebrate world seems to have almost given up on long necks. A few mammals, a few turtles, no other reptiles, no amphibians. Only the dinosaurian-derived birds seem to put much stock in long necks anymore.)

Science follows (or should follow) where the evidence leads, without preconceptions. The question is how strong the evidence is, and, unless you've got a carcass in your office, there's no avoiding some degree of subjective judgment on that. The probability of discovery does factor into that judgment. If we had, for example, several seemingly good accounts of 21st century mammoths in North America, I'd still discount them, because the chance of the animals remaining hidden until now is so close to zero. The chance that science has missed every one of several breeding populations of large bipedal primates on four continents (N America, S America, Europe, and Australia) (and on most of Asia), a position held seriously by some experienced cryptozoologists, likewise seems to me very close to zero. I think we will find at least one (Sumatra's orang-pendek), and one or two others are at least possible. But not a whole zoo of them.

Since this is my blog, let me toss in my opinon about the recurring belief of some cryptozoologists that evidence once reported and now unavailable may have been "suppressed by science." I'm not saying that all evidence is viewed dispassionately and treated properly. Let's say a paleontologist finds a plesiosaur vertebra that appears only 20M years old, when the established wisdom is that all such animals died out 60M years ago. I could imagine her talking herself out of publishing about it because there's such a strongly established body of thinking behind the 60M year date. She may think "It must be my mistake" or "I'm not putting this out there unless I have a dozen more like it and three other paleontologists who have duplicated my dating results and will say so in print."

A scientist with a dead plesiosaur (or whatever form of "sea monster") in his museum is another thing. A recent carcass will hold up to any storm of criticism or ridicule while making the discoverer famous for all time. I'm quite firmly convinced that no dead sea monsters (or sasquatches or Homo erectus specimens or whatever) are stuffed in vaults because someone found them inconvenient.

All that said, there are still compelling zoological mysteries still to be solved. I hope we will solve them. I won't be disappointed, though, if there are some we never do. I think that's good for us.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hubble's deeper view of our universe

After this year's repairs by adventurous (and dexterous) astronauts, the Hubble Space Telescope has brought in a stunning array of new views of the universe. My first reaction to some of these was to add the caption, "God's Christmas ornaments decorating the cosmos."

Augustine Commission: to Mars, eventually

The summary of the Augustine Commission report is in, and the panelists thought NASA's plan for a near-term return to the Moon was (depressingly, but not surprisingly) unaffordable on politically realistic budgets. The Commission suggested NASA let private industry increasingly take over the Earth-to-orbit portion of the space business while the agency develops cutting-edge technology and pursues a "flexible" strategy for human spaceflight. The eventual goal for humans would be Mars, but the steps and timelines would develop gradually, as technology allowed. The Commission felt NASA's Ares I booster program was unlikely to provide enough value in this private/public mix to be worth continuing.
COMMENT: It will be very interesting to see how the Obama administration and new NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden will factor this report into the real world - directives and budgets. Personal opinion: I'd expect the Administration to interpret "flexible" as "keep the budgets flat." That doesn't mean no good will come of this. The cancellation of Ares and the increased contracting out may - may - mean more money for science missions (an Administration priority), a broader space technology base, and the kind of technological advances needed for missions to Near Earth Asteroids, Mars, and other destinations. Like I said, it'll be interesting.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Giant rat discovered

An expedition filming a BBC documentary series, Lost Land of the Volcano, discovered a new species of enormous rat in Papua New Guinea. The 1.5 kg animal is 82cm long, making it one of the largest true rats - if not the largest - in the world. The species, known informally as the Bosavi woolly rat, awaits its formal description.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The quest for the Orang-pendek

Press release from Britain's Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ):

A group of British explorers and scientists from the Devon based Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), the world's largest mystery animal research organisation, are about to embark on an expedition in search of a yeti-like creature in Indonesia. The four-man team will search the jungles of Sumatra for what locals call the 'orang-pendek'. The powerfully built, upright-walking beast may be related to both the orang-utan and the much larger yeti of mainland Asia. In the same island chain remains of the tiny hominid known as Homo floresiensis were unearthed in 2003.
The Kubu people - an ancient race who were the first inhabitants of Sumatra - will aid the team. The tribe and their chief have seen the creature in their poorly explored jungle homelands.
Westerners have sighted the orang-pendek too, including Englishwoman Debbie Martyr, now head of the Indonesian tiger conservation group, and wildlife photographer Jeremy Holden.
You can follow the group's adventures on line at the CFZ website on"

COMMENT: The orang-pendek is very respectable as cryptozoological quests go, and has been remarked upon by "mainstream" experts as intriguing. I've corresponded with conservationist Debbie Martyr, internationally known for her tiger work, and she is certain of her sightings of an animal larger than the local gibbons and habitually bipedal. The only photograph is too blurry to be widely accepted, but there is good reason to believe the animal will be found - if not by this expedition, then sooner or later. Martyr fears for the species in the face of widespread illegal logging, though. So good luck to Freeman and company!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mars still beckons us

What Ray Bradbury calls "homestead Mars" is still the right long-term goal for humanity, according to a new NASA report. (This is not to be confused with the Augustine Commission report on human spaceflight programs, which is leaking out all over the place but not yet final.) The report's conclusion is that, even though we will not go to Mars (or anywhere else) on the optimistic schedule proposed a few years back in the Vision for Space Exploration, it should remain our eventual goal to set human footprints on the Red Planet.
"NASA must remain the world leader in human spaceflight and lead humankind to prepare for missions to Mars. We are going to Mars because it is civilization's next major challenge."
COMMENT: There is something, even if romantic, which calls us to the only other world in the solar system that might host and sustain a human population. We should not overlook other goals and other needs, and we should continue the wildly successful robotic exploration of Mars and other worlds. Still, there is something that standing on another planet will teach us about the universe and ourselves. Getting there has to be a gradual process, constrained by the real world of technology development and budgets, but the report is right: we need a goal for the long term, and Mars will wait for us.
Someone once proposed this:
"Would you sign up for a mission to explore Mars if you knew it would take two years and you'd have a twenty percent chance of not returning?"
My response:
"Where do I sign up?"

"I had the ambition to not only go farther than man had gone before, but to go as far as it was possible to go." - Captain James Cook

This one looks worth reading

I've not gotten ahold of it yet, but here's a review of what looks like a fascinating new book on how we perceive and name the creatures around us. The book is called Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science, and the author is the always-worth-reading Carol Kaesuk Yoon. (W.W. Norton & Co., 2009)

More wonders from down under

WWF Australia is releasing a new report on discoveries of fauna and flora in a continent still not completely known. A large bat, the snubfin dolphin, a carnivorous pitcher plant that grows a meter high, a new possum - all kinds of interesting new species are popping up.
There are still mysteries about the larger ground fauna of Australia, too. There are, without question, confirmed sightings of some sort of large feline-looking predator which may be a population of cougars bred from abandoned animals imported from the U.S. There is the continuing mystery of the yarri, a large marsupial predator, and persistent reports of surviving thylacines, which were supposedly out-competed on the Australian mainland by the human-introduced dingo thousands of years ago.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Apollo 12 landing site - great image

This image taken from lunar orbit shows everything on the Apollo 12 landing site - the descent stage of the Lunar Module Intrepid, the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, the old Surveyor probe the astronauts visited, and preserved on the airless Moon, the unmistakable trails made by the walking astronauts.
It won't kill the "moon hoax" claims, but, in a rational world, it would.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Evolution tells us how, but why remains fuzzy

An interested exchange of dueling thought on science and religion.
First came Robert Wright with his book The Evolution of God, applying psychology and game theory to examine our evolving idea of the divine.
Then came biologist Jerry Coyne with a sharply negative review in The New Republic, saying essentially that Wright's book was pointless because the very idea that a divinity was at work in the universe had been disproved by science.
Here Jim Manzi argues back: "The theory of evolution, then, has not eliminated the problems of ultimate origins and ultimate purpose with respect to the development of organisms; it has ignored them."
In other words, we are learning more every day about the HOW, but science can't tell us the WHY, and can't prove or disprove the existence of a WHY.
COMMENT: I'm with Manzi here. I didn't find Coyne's argument or Richard Dawkins' famous bestseller "disproving" God convincing. Dawkins argued convincingly that God as Dawkins defined Him did not appear to exist, but that's not the same thing.

New species: the view from Sikkim

One of the things I like most about the internet is the way it lets me scan news sources from around the world and get the local angle on stories that I'd otherwise see only through the prism of major global news outlets - or miss out on altogether.
I mentioned the WWF report a little while ago that showed 353 new species of plants and animals from the eastern Himalayan region. Here, the Press Trust of India reports that Sikkim is "the country's richest state in terms of biodiversity." Nineteen of the new species are found in Sikkim, including five orchids and three fish.

P.S. Also today, I see we have three new frogs from Peru:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New Species from a dark world

Beneath Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, is the world's longest known underwater lava tube, stretching more than 1.5km. It's no surprise that an environment as strange as the Tunnel de la Atlantida should harbor new species. A recent dive netted three, all of them eyeless: two tiny worms and a 2.5cm-long crustacean from the primitive group known as remipedes. The crustacean is almost transparent and is equipped with poison fangs.
COMMENT: These animals may seem insignificant, but the point is that we find new species everywhere we look: on land, in the seas, underground, in caves, etc. The explosion of life that began so long ago reached all over the globe, into every place life could exist (and some, like seafloor vents gushing superhot, mineral-laden water, where we would have thought it could not exist.)